How to Lead When You’re Not The Boss (Part 1)

Even though you’re not the boss, you might be asked to lead a team of your peers on a project. Forbes contributor Lisa Rabasca Roepe offers tips on taking charge without alienating your co-workers.

Start by getting everyone on the same page. Don’t assume that everyone agrees on end results or deliverables. To get buy-in, your first meeting should include everyone in the goal setting discussion.

If you’re not the most knowledgeable about all aspects of the project, identify the real experts on the team and ask them to share what they know.

Rather than assigning roles, let people choose what they’ll work on. They’ll likely gravitate toward tasks that fit their skills best, and they’ll be more vested.

Watch your body language. Avoid rolling your eyes, crossing your arms or fidgeting when a colleague makes an unpopular suggestion. Thank them for sharing their idea and move on.

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How to Lead When You’re Not the Boss (Part 2)

Forbes contributor Lisa Rabasca Roepe says that on those occasions when you’re asked to lead a team of your peers, it’s important to be truthful, but tactful. If they are going to produce a great product, you need to get comfortable with pointing out where they are on track and what needs rework. To avoid alienating them, when you critique their work, be sure to point them in the direction of the resources they need.

She also suggests asking for feedback from the senior-level colleagues on your team, and from your organization’s leadership, if the group reaches an impasse. Asking for help saves valuable time that would be wasted if you try to push things through or continue to knock heads.

Roepe recommends that you take ownership of the team’s mistakes. This builds trust and strengthens your credibility as a leader.

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